On 9th November, the case between Goring Parish Council and South Oxfordshire District Council was heard in the High Court. We found out shortly before the hearing that the case against the Environment Agency regarding the flood risk assessment had been dropped by GPC, leaving this matter settled and the adequacy of the assessment unchallenged. The case heard therefore only covered the planning process undertaken by SODC.
The judge found that although SODC failed to undertake a screening process for the need for a formal environmental impact assessment, “all of the potential impacts of the proposed development were considered in detail by the Council as local planning authority, especially given in the present case that the proposed development has been subject to consultation with various statutory consultees, including the Environment Agency, and the numerous representations made to the Council by the public, including the Goring Parish Council”. Given that the parish council did not identify any new factors that had not already been considered by the SODC in reviewing the planning, the judge refused to quash the decision as there was no reason to conclude that, were the process to be gone through again taking into account any of the issues raised by GPC, there would be any likelihood of a different decision being reached.
So, although it is unfortunate that there was a problem with the way SODC processed the planning application, what this has meant is that the judge has reviewed all the evidence and concluded s that there were no suitable grounds for revoking the planning permission. In doing so he also concluded that in generating renewable energy from the Thames “the factors weighing in favour of the grant of planning permission were weighty”
The full judgement can be found here: Final_Judgement
We have subsequently heard that GPC intends to appeal this decision. However, having followed the process carefully to date, even were the appeal to be successful, it could only result in the need for us to immediately resubmit our planning application as all the issues rest not on our information, but on the way it has been considered by SODC.